Kurt Helin

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Zach LaVine

Kidd says Giannis Antetokounmpo could play every position for Bucks

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The modern NBA is all about versatility — Golden State will be hanging a banner because they have very talented players who can play and defend multiple positions. It gives them the ability to go big, go small (without sacrificing defense), or just exploit matchup advantages. Every NBA team is trying to do that to a degree.

The Bucks Giannis Antetokounmpo may take that to another level.

He will start the season at the four until Jabari Parker returns, and then he will slide over to the three. But you can expect him to play every position on the court, Bucks’ coach Jason Kidd told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

“He’s 20 years old and he’s going to play every position for us,” Kidd said. “…He never complains. He just goes out there and plays.

“I think he’s showing he’s confident in shooting the three. He’s confident while he’s on the floor and he’s doing a lot of good things for us.”

Antetokounmpo at the center spot in a small-ball lineup? I can see that. He can easily play either forward spot. As he develops, I can see him as a point forward/guard, and working off the ball like a two.

In a positionless NBA, Antetokounmpo could be the ultimate Swiss Greek Army knife. It’s just another reason to watch the Bucks, who will be entertaining if nothing else this season.

Report: Lamar Odom undergoes two emergency surgeries

Lamar Odom
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Lamar Odom is back in Los Angeles, recovering from his overdose and stroke suffered last week, and is doing considerably better each day. His Aunt released this statement, via the Los Angeles Times.

“To our overwhelming delight, Lamar’s courageous improvement continues on the incline in Los Angeles. He is beginning to gradually flourish both mentally and physically,” according to a statement issued on behalf of Odom’s aunt, JaNean Mercer.

However, Odom has a long road of recovery still ahead.

That includes two emergency medical procedures — read: surgeries — in the past couple days, according to TMZ.

We’re told the procedures involved chest issues, but we do not know if it’s connected to his lungs or heart.  Our sources say the surgeries have put Lamar in “a fragile mental state.”  We’re told he’s emotional and at times, very upset.

Difficult to blame him. Longer term he has more surgeries ahead, likely including a kidney transplant, reports  Mark Medina at the Los Angeles Daily News.

Odom will likely need a kidney transplant, according to multiple sources familiar with his recovery. Ever since being hospitalized last week after becoming unresponsive at a Las Vegas brothel, Odom has received daily kidney dialysis treatment….

Odom is expected to need months of dialysis and physical therapy, sources said. But for patients with end stage kidney failure, dialysis does not improve the condition of the actual kidney.

Odom likely also has some level of brain damage from the stroke (or strokes).

This incident — as the latest evidence in a long line of stories about NBA players struggling to adapt to life after basketball — is prompting the NBA players union to consider how it can help the transition, union president Michelle Roberts told Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports.

“There has been a dearth of services in terms of adhering to the guys’ needs. One of the things we spend a lot of time dealing with is the complete absence of any type of transition program for the guys. On one hand you would say that’s the responsibility of the [National Basketball] Retired Players Association, but they don’t have the resources.

“We’re sort of deciding how we can fill that space. Technically, our players are paying dues for services of current members. So there will have to be some buy-in. There is also clearly a lot of buy-in from the membership in terms of our operating health insurance for any retired player. The desire to be supportive of retired players is there among the current members. But what we need to figure out and create is a transition program under the auspice of the NPBA with the collaboration of the NBRPA. Lamar is a great example of why it needs to be done.”

Odom — an NBA champion and former Sixth Man of the Year — was found unconscious last week at a Nevada brothel after what had been three days of drugs, drinking and more. He was rushed to a Las Vegas area hospital, where he battled for his life, but after stabilizing he transferred to a Los Angeles area hospital. While he’s making progress, these latest reports are a reminder of just how far he has to go.

Through the recovery, his estranged wife Khloe Kardashian has returned to his side, and the two have rescinded their divorce papers.

 

 

Nike opening store with only Michael Jordan items in Chicago

Michael Jordan Celebrates the 30th Anniversary of Air Jordan At Palais de Tokyo In Paris
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CHICAGO (AP) — Nike is opening a Michael Jordan-only store in Chicago’s Loop this weekend.

The new Jordan Brand store opens Saturday. The Chicago Tribune reports (http://trib.in/1GrWtmt ) it will sell merchandise with the trademarked Michael Jordan “Jumpman” silhouette. Nike also plans stores in New York, Los Angeles and Toronto featuring the former Chicago Bulls star. Jordan Brand offers basketball, training, sportswear and kids’ products.

Nike Chief Executive Mark Parker says Jordan’s popularity opens up a “world of opportunity” for the company.

Nike also said last week that it will report Jordan Brand financial results separately from its basketball division.

Sarah Mensah is general manager of the Jordan Brand in North America. She says consumers wanted a place to see everything Jordan-related. She says stores also will feature items chosen “specifically by Michael.”

PBT Extra bold prediction preview: Can MVP Harden get Rockets a title?

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James Harden was an absolute beast last season – 27.4 points, seven rebounds, more than five assists per night. As seemingly every other Rocket player of note went down injured for at least some stretch of time, Harden stepped up and made plays. Behind him, the Rockets won the Southwest Division, were the No. 2 seed in the playoffs, and reached the Western Conference Finals?

Can Harden and the Rockets both take the next step — can he win the MVP and the Rockets win a title? That’s the question on the table in this latest PBT Extra with Jenna Corrado.

I would argue the way for the Rockets to win the title is to take some of the weight off Harden’s shoulders. If Ty Lawson is healthy and is a quality second playmaker, if Dwight Howard is a defensive anchor and putting up offensive numbers, if the role players step up the Rockets can win a title. But if all that happens, Harden may slip in the MVP race. He’d make that trade, by the way.

 

What happened to Jimmer Fredette in the NBA?

Sacramento Kings v Los Angeles Lakers
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There was no more divisive, controversial figure in the 2011 NBA draft than Jimmer Fredette.

Scouts were split on Fredette and how he’d fit in the NBA. There was no question the man could shoot the rock, but in college the offense was geared toward him with the ball in his hands, plus his defensive problems were not exploited. The question was whether a GM thought he could adapt his game to the NBA where he would have to work more in a system. The Kings believed he could, they traded down to get him at No. 10 — ahead of Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard, and Markieff Morris.

But after four unimpressive seasons in the NBA, his career seems to be over for now after being cut by the Spurs this week. Fredette likely is headed to Europe or somewhere else, but for now his NBA career is over.

What happened? Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports spoke to scouts and his former coaches and got a frank assessment of a guy not willing to adapt his game.

“Jimmer thinks everybody is stupid,” said an NBA assistant who worked with Fredette. “He thinks everybody needs to come and just turn over their offense and let him shoot it anytime he wants. That’s not how the league works….”

“He won’t adjust his game for it,” he said. “He’ll tell you, ‘This is what I did at BYU.’ Well, BYU, that’s a long time ago.”

 

This happens to good players in every professional sport. They are used to being huge stars — the best player on their high school team, their AAU team, and likely their college team, and everything was geared around them and their skills. Then they get to the NBA and they need to accept life as a role player and cannot. They are convinced that what worked so well before will continue to work, despite all evidence to the contrary.

Fredette (and the cult of Jimmer fans) thought he was a Stephen Curry style point guard who could score and run the offense, just nobody ever gave him that chance. The reality is he simply not good enough to do that at the NBA level — he doesn’t have the playmaking skills, he doesn’t have the athleticism. However, the bigger issue was always defense. The last couple seasons, when he would enter the game the opposing point guard’s eyes would light up — teams ran sets to go right at Fredette because he couldn’t stay in front of anyone. It was that defense that kept him off the court more than anything in New Orleans last season, a team that was in desperate need of point guard help.

Fredette needed to adapt his game, and the comp everyone around the league seemed to use was J.J. Redick, now with the Clippers.

“J.J. is a good example for him,” one of his NBA coaches said. “He had done a lot of prolific scoring in college, but came in and eventually figured out the NBA. He changed his body. He learned the league. He’s had a hell of a career, but it wasn’t easy for him early on.”

 

It took Redick almost five seasons in the league to adapt his game to the point he was a valuable contributor (now on a contending team, where his shooting is key to the Clippers spacing). He’s talked many times about those challenges. And let’s not forget, Redick is two inches taller and a better athlete than Fredette ever was.

If Fredette goes to Europe, maybe he can find his stroke and a way to fit into a team that will someday allow him to come back to the NBA and contribute. Maybe. The question is does he want to make that kind of commitment and change?